Wishlist Foundation


A Grandmother’s Quest for Sight: Pauline’s Unexpected Journey

 Let’s dive into the story of Pauline, who’s life took an unexpected turn when retinal detachment threatened her vision and how AUSMAR’s legacy project lives on.

5 min read | February 8, 2024 – 7.00am

In the heart of Tewantin, a tale of resilience and community support unfolds – one that hits close to home for us at AUSMAR. Our commitment to Wishlist, as founding partners, took a remarkable turn in 2011 when we built the first charity house. Little did we know that this initiative would evolve into a lifeline for the Sunshine Coast’s Ophthalmology Centre, raising a crucial $430,000 that is now, quite literally, saving lives.

AUSMAR’s first Wishlist charity house in 2011

Pauline’s Unexpected Journey: A Personal Triumph

Fast forward to 2024 and we find ourselves sharing the incredible story of Pauline Durham, a Tewantin resident whose life took unexpected twists despite successful cataract surgery. In the midst of a regular shift at a Noosa resort, her colleague’s keen eye noticed something amiss with Pauline’s left eye – black and purple hues that signalled a potential crisis.

“I was shocked and scared. All I could think about was not seeing my grandkids,” Pauline recalls. Unaware of the increased ophthalmology services on the Sunshine Coast, she found herself redirected to Ophthalmology Surgeon Dr. Warren Apel at Caloundra Health Service in a bid to prevent permanent eyesight loss.

A Successful Procedure and the Road to Recovery

Within a week of the diagnosis, Pauline found herself undergoing a procedure that, thankfully, yielded a 90% return of her vision. However, the road to recovery was no walk in the park. Two months of disciplined recovery meant sacrifices in everyday activities – work, exercise, and even cooking. It became one of the biggest challenges she had ever faced.

Wishlist’s Impact: Lighting up the Sunshine Coast

The extension of ophthalmology services on the Sunshine Coast is a direct result of Wishlist’s relentless dedication. Over the past decade, more than half a million dollars have been directed to the Ophthalmology Unit at Caloundra Health Service. Lisa Rowe, Wishlist CEO, emphasises the recent $70,000 funding boost, coupled with the $430,000 from “The House the Coast Built” appeal in 2011 with AUSMAR, has ushered in state-of-the-art medical equipment, including eyesight-saving lasers.

“This equipment has changed the lives of thousands of locals, offering state-of-the-art treatment right here on the Coast without the inconvenience of traveling to Brisbane,” Ms. Rowe notes.

Gratitude and a Call to Action

Pauline, reflecting on her journey, expresses profound gratitude for the caring guidance of Dr. Apel and his team and acknowledges Wishlist for funding the equipment that made her procedure possible.

As the journey unfolds, we invite you to be a part of this ongoing mission. Your contribution, no matter the size, can make a significant impact on lives like Pauline’s. Help us continue to save sight and illuminate the lives of Sunshine Coast locals by making a donation at wishlist.org.au.

Together, we are shaping stories of triumph, resilience, and the power of community support. The journey continues, and we’re excited to have you by our side.

Director Josh Green in 2011 testing out the new equipment for the Ophthalmology Services



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